How Manitoba Encourages Settlement in Smaller Communities

Published on: September 3rd, 2021
Last updated: March 27th, 2024

As more and more newcomers settle in Canada’s urban regions, rural Manitoba communities turn to immigration programs to increase their populations and fill labour market gaps.

How can moving to a rural area increase your chances with Manitoba’s nominee programs?

For candidates that do not have work experience or a qualifying education credential from Manitoba may be eligible under the Manitoba Skilled Worker Overseas stream. This stream targets skilled workers that can fill labour gaps and easily adapt to living in the province. These candidates must have a connection through either a supporter or experience in the province, or an invitation directly under a strategic recruitment initiative.

If a hopeful applicant does not have a connection to Manitoba, there may still be an option to immigrate to the province. Manitoba offers regional immigration initiatives to increase settlement to smaller communities. The communities of Churchill, Morden, Pinawa, Winkler, Brandon, and Altona host additional programs for skilled workers willing to settle in their small town. Using existing immigration programs, these Manitoba communities create their own eligibility criteria to find newcomers that can contribute to their economic development.

Candidates with a connection to Manitoba may also increase their chances by stating their interest in moving to a region outside of Winnipeg on an Expression of Interest profile. Once a candidate has submitted a Expression of Interest under one of Manitoba’s Skilled Worker programs, the province will rank the profile using their unique points grid.

The points system ranks candidates various work experience, education, and other factors. Candidates may also claim points for stating their intention to reside in a less populous area in the province; by doing so, an applicant’s score could increase by 50 points.

In regular draws, MPNP issues “Letters of Advice of Apply” (LAA) to the highest-ranking profiles.  Successful applicants are subsequently invited to apply to the Canadian government for permanent residency.

Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot

Manitoba also uses the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) to increase immigration to their smaller communities.

Manitoba towns Brandon and Altona/Rhineland are both participants in the pilot. The towns set their own eligibility criteria, which they use to recommend candidates for Canadian permanent residency. These candidates must hold a job offer in the community and meet Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship (IRCC) eligibility requirements.

Why settle in small town Manitoba?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, more and more Canadians have been moving out of urban cities and into more rural areas.  This has been made possible due to a widespread shift to working from home.

There are many reasons newcomers may choose to settle in a small Canadian town. The lower cost of living gives many a better chance at home ownership and the landscape can be a welcome alternative to the urban concrete jungle.

Many of the small towns chosen for regional immigration programs have also made significant efforts to welcome newcomers to their communities.

Nina Pinlac-Manuguid immigrated from the Philippines to Winkler, Manitoba in 2009.  Her husband later joined her in 2011. The couple loved the small town so much, they’ve continued to live there 10 years later. While it was a big adjustment after coming from the busy city of Manila, it was made easier through the support of the community. When Nina first arrived alone, Winkler community members offered to take her grocery shopping, and invited her to events where she could make friends.

It is not uncommon that newcomers are welcomed to local events and even receive a free weekly community meal. The mayor of Winkler says “the acceptance of the immigrant community has been absolutely phenomenal.”.

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